Convictions - God being our provider, and us stewards of his gifts
1. Jesus Christ is head of the Church
2. And he has sent us to make disciples
3. By word, prayer and service
4. Supported by fruitful godly leaders
5. God being our provider, and us stewards of his gifts.
God being our provider
God being our provider
God made everything and God owns everything.
This part of the conviction is stating our belief that God owns the resources for ministry in our parish and is able to bless and resource the ministry to which we are called.
We have story after story in the scriptures of God providing the resources required for his people to survive and thrive.
Take our first reading from Deut 2:1-7:
In Deut 2:7
7 The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.
We read Moses reminding the people of God how he has been with them on their journey for 40 years in the wilderness. God has been with them and they have lacked nothing.
We know about that so well. Water from a rock, manna from heaven. Victory over enemies. When they have been in trouble, God has provided.
Therefore they should continue to trust Him and obey Him knowing he will keep on providing for them.
So it is in the NT too.
Our second reading from Phil 4:4-20
Paul has endured some tough stuff in his ministry life and yet through it all God has provided for him.
We read in our second readings in Phil 4 about how the church there gave to Paul to help his ministry of church planting.
The Philippians have given generously to Paul.
And Paul reminds the Philippians that God will continue to look after them:
19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
When Jesus teaches us to pray he reminds us of the generous provision and care of God the Father for us his children too:
In Matthew 6 and 7 Jesus reminds us that we can ask God for everything we need
11 Give us today our daily bread.
And then as he continues to teach a few verse later he says:
9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
God will provide. He has promised to do it.
The people and the dollars.
But he won’t provide them for the wrong things.
He provided for Paul’s life to enable his mission
He provides for our daily bread - our basic needs to enable us to focus on our job too. Give us this daily bread comes after your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. The mission is primary!
He provided for the people of Israel so they could be a light that shone to the other nations.
If we align ourselves with God’s disciple making mission he promises to provide what we need to achieve it.
Stewards of His gifts
Stewards of His gifts
So if God provides then:
We need to be good stewards of these resources, unlocking and deploying them for His service and not for our comfort.
We have lived out this conviction at Lindisfarne over the last 2.5 years and it hasn’t always been comfortable.
We have worked through the immense pain and difficultly of looking at the assets God has blessed us with, This complex and the St James building and prayerfully seeking God for how we can best deploy those resources for ministry.
Let me tell you, when the Parish Council and I decided that the wisest course of action was to move our services to the one location and when in June last year we started those new services I was extremely nervous.
Had we done the right thing? Some of you might find this hard to believe, but I actually don’t enjoy doing things that make people upset or unhappy. I agonised over the decision. It took the PC and I a lot of blood sweat, prayers and tears to come to that decision.
I was pretty sure it was the right thing to do for the sake of the disciple making vision of our church, but I really couldn’t be sure.
And then in the immediate aftermarth of that decision we dropped over $2,000 in our giving in a month.
And let me tell you I was pretty upset with God. I was pretty upset at myself for wrecking the church. I was extremely confused, because I believed God would provide if we did the hard things he was calling us too.
And I remember very very vividly driving somewhere angry and upset with God as I stared a massive hole in our budget.
And I remember basically saying, well God, only you can fix this mess. All I can do is trust you and keep doing what I think you’ve called me to do.
And in the month following our annual meeting last year, suddenly our finances turned around. They went back up past where they were before we made the service changes. And they kept on growing. Our giving went up by 17% this finacial year, but what’s more amazing is it did that after a number of months of bottoming out. God has been so generous. And this ought to be a sign to us that we are on to something. That we are aligning ourselves with His vision.
So let me say thank you to those of you who have been moved by God to give joyfully and generously to the work God is doing in this place. Your giving means we have been able to draw down on some of capital to equip our church for 21st century ministry with a high quality audio visual system. We we able to make the decision to steward our the gifts of captial that God has given us preciesley because your generous giving was now paying for the majority of our bills. We have become much less reliant on interest. The more God moves in your hearts to give to his mission here, the more we are going to be able to think about how we strategically use and steward His provision for us.
Well as if our 17% increase in giving wasn’t miraculous enough. In December last year Ellisa and I began to talk about whether or not we thought we could get a sunday school off the ground. We had a few chats with some of the other families about it, but it wasn’t clear how this was going to be able to happen. But we were certain it needed to so we could better grow our children into disciples of Jesus.
Well again, one month later and Chris Berry rings me up and says, Chris I’ve got some news. What is it? A parisioner has just given an annoymous donation to our church of $24,000 and they want it to be used to grow the ministry of the church. If possible they’d like it to be used for staff to support you in your ministry. Wow! Would you believe taht the figure was basically the exact amount a children’s ministry intern would cost? And that God then provided a wonderfly gifted person in Emma to fill that role. God has also blessed us with money from the Diocese to support that role, meaning the 24,000 might even be able to stretch to a 2nd intern once Em’s time finishes. Who knows? But I do know this… God will provide whatever the case may be.
It’s an exciting time to be at Lindisfarne Anglican. I hope and pray you’ll continue to give joyfully and genreously to the work of mission here at this church. I hope and pray you’ll continue to pray for myself and the parish council as we seek to be wise stewards of the gifts God provides. And most of all I pray that you will share in the joy that God wants to give you in seeing his Kingdom grow, as disciples are made in our church.
God doesn’t want you to be bitter. He doesn’t want you to be angry. He doesn’t want you to be skeptical about the way he is blessing us. He wants you to rejoice in His goodness. To enjoy the vitality and life He is bringing. To grow as a disciple of Jesus and to be so full of His love and joy it bubles out of you.
Jesus Christ is head of this church. And He has sent us to make disciples, by word, prayer and service. Supported by fruitful Godly leaders, God being our provided and us stewards of His gifts.
As we align ourselves with these convictions and act upon them, there is power and joy as we see God’s miraculous hand at work. I can’t wait to see what 2020 brings!